Updated: Mar 18, 2020
Aldsidu (and modern Asatru) is very fortunate compared to other Germanic Heathenries. We have two Eddas, and over 700 Sagas & Poems to survive, as well as a calendar recorded in the 10th century by the Icelandic Althing. The Eddas, over 700 sagas, and the Norse Calendar recorded by the Althing have ZERO mentions of "Eostre." Why? Eostre is not a Norse Goddess. Three Historical Heathen Calendars survived from Antiquity: 1. The Iceland Althing Calendar, circa 930 AD. 2. Einhard recorded the Frankish Calendar circa 830 AD in his "Vita Karolini Magni" chapter 29. 3. Bede Recorded the Anglish Calendar in "De Temporum Ratione" chapter 15, dated precisely to the year 725 AD. There are two historical mentions of Eostre or Ostar. Bede mentioned an "Eostre Moon" in De Temporum Ratione ch 15, as the fourth moon of the Anglish/English Calendar. Vita Karolini Magni Chapter 29, states that the fourth moon of the Frankish year was "Ostar Moon" which was preceded by the third moon of the Frankish year called "Lenzi-moon" meaning "Lent Moon" or "Lengthening moon." It is obvious the church chose the names "Lent" and "Eostre/Easter" as titles for a fast and for Resurrection Sunday. It is also obvious, that the church is more "Heathen" than many Asatruar today, as the Church follows the Frankish and Anglish dating of Easter by using the Full Moon. Easter is the first Sunday after the First Full Moon after the Equinox. Modern Asatru has followed the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, which has a Sabbat called "Ostara." But historical Eostre was on the Full Moon of "Ostar moon" (Frankish) or "Eostre moon" (Anglish), not on the Equinox when Wicca places "Ostara." What is interesting, and confusing, is that new people to Asatru are taught that "Ostara" is a historical Norse Holiday, when she is not even a Norse Goddess. According to the Sagas, the chief Blot of the Year was "Sigurblot", which is oddly the same full moon as Eostre Full Moon to the Anglish and Franks. HEIMSKRINGLA ÓLÁFS SAGA HELGA 77: “In Svithjod it was the old custom, as long as heathenism prevailed, that the chief blot took place in Goa Moon at Upsala. Blots were to be made at that time for peace and VICTORY for the king, and people from all over Sweden were to resort there.” Sigurblot is a word that means "victory blot." Today, Sigurblot seems to be completely forgotten in Modern Asatru, in favor of a foreign (to the Norse) holiday...
Why do I believe the Old Saxons (the Saxons who did not go to England) did not know Eostre or Ostar (PS- The Saxons who went to England were few, and those who did met Eostre in England)
Arguments for the Saxons not knowing Ostar/Eostre:
1. Oxford Linguist Philip A. Shaw, concludes in his book “Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda and the Cult of Matrons” that Eostre is a regional deity of the Anglish in Kent.
2. There is an Old Saxon Epic Poem called "The Heliand Gospel" or just "Heliand." The word in the Heliand for “Easter” is “Pascha.” It even has a “Fitt Title”, the only “Fitt” or “Chapter” in the Heliand with a title is Crist’s (Christ’s) Passover Seder, called “Pascha”, and not “Ostar.” That is how important "Pascha" is in the Heliand... and the Heliand author uses the word "Pascha" in the Heliand for Passover/Resurrection Day... Please note, Anglish monks and missionaries were the main body of missionaries in Old Saxony. These Anglish monks would have had knowledge of the Anglish Monk Bede's work on Eostre. These monks did not use "Ostar" when describing the Paschal holiday as Bede did in De Temporum Ratione when discussing the Angles and their Heathenry.
3. The Chapter in the Heliand where the word “Ostar” (literally, the word “Ostar”) occurs is in Fitt (Chapter) 7. The word however means "from the east" and is referring to wise men travelling from the east, and not a Goddess. See more detail on this in the next section.
4. Most of the Austriahenae stones are found in Frankia. Frisia has the second highest concentration. (See Shaw's Map) from his book. Frankia and Frisia blow away (not even close) all other locations.
5. While the Saxons are often allied with the Frisians, they seem to be closer to the Danes. Widukind, Theoden of Saxony, is always fleeing to the Danes per the Royal Frankish Annals (a contemporary source to the Saxon Wars.) Widukind, the last Theoden of Saxony, married Geva of Westfold, daughter of the Danish king Goimo I and sister of the Danish kings Ragnar (yes, that Ragnar) and Siegfried. Widukind of Corvey (not Widukind the Heathen “rebel” and Theoden during the Saxon Wars) in the 10th century wrote his “History of the Saxons.” In it, he gives three possible origins of the Saxons. What is important, is that Widukind states that the common Saxon peasants all believed that the Saxons were descended from Danes and not Frisians. The Saxons certainly went to the Danes often for allies in the wars against forced Christianization with the Franks.
Expounding on point 3 above: The Heliand Chapter 7.
“Ostan” is the first Old Saxon word related to “Ostar/Eostre” in Fitt 7. It means “from the East.” (the context says “Wise men came from the East.”) Please note: wise men is the Old Saxon word “Glauua” and not “spahi” for “spa men”
“Ostar” is the second word in Fitt 7 related to the word “Ostar.” (It is the word itself.) I translated this passage: “Then there was one witty man, wise and full of wisdom formerly from a long time ago who was our elder in the east there.” Please note the word for wisdom here is “Frod” (the name “Frodo” in Lord of the Rings Tolkein used as a hobbit's name. Frod in Old Saxon means “wise” or “old”. I prefer “aged-wisdom” here… as a translation… Remember, Old Norse also has a similar word to "Ostar" meaning "from the east." To say "from the East" in modern Swedish you would say " från öst." What I am bluntly saying is, all Germanic languages have words meaning "East". Their presence doesn't imply that the Swedes or Saxons knew Ostar as a Goddess.
The third word occurrence in Old Saxon occurs in Fitt 8, not Fitt 7. When Fitt 7 ends, there is a change. Let me explain. Often in the Heliand, things are explained first with their Roman understanding, followed by a Saxon understanding. This seems to be a way to teach the Saxons Roman thought. Fitt 7 seems to be the Roman biblical understanding. Fitt 8, all the words change: 'uurekkiun’ and ‘uuarsagono’ The three wise men are given the Saxon word for “foreign warriors” (uurekkiun). At the end of song 7 the men are “book strong.” At the beginning of song 8 they are given the more familiar Saxon title of “soothsayers” (uuarsagono), i.e. truth-sayers. Therefore, the third occurrence of the word is “ostarwegun” meaning “east road” or “east way.” Here is my translation of the beginning of Fitt 8: “Immediately after the slithery-minded king told words to the foreign-warriors, the soothsayers’** to the foreign earls who were traveling, he asked when they on the east-way first saw the kingly-star coming, the sign of lighting brightly from heaven. They did not wish to hide anything, so they told him the soothsaying***…”
Do you see how “Heathen” song 8 of the Heliand is? If the Saxons venerated a Goddess with the name Ostar, the use of the word “East” in this entire passage would not appear “mundane”. There seems to be zero knowledge of this goddess with “soothsayers” soothsaying in the East, in a story where non-Jews by soothsaying predict the birth of Crist (Christ) when Jews did not. I have a difficult time believing that had Ostar been a known Goddess to the Saxons, a Goddess who brings about summer with signs in the sky, that there would be no "holy" illusion to this Goddess when seers are mentioned, along with signs in the sky. (Full moons, and the word “beacon” for “sign” is used in this passage, and "sterron" for "star."). Had Easter been a Saxon Goddess there would be mention of holy significance to Easter as a Goddess of the East. Please keep in mind, Uuoden (or Odin) is alluded to in the Heliand in two passages, as Crist (Christ) had a Raven on his shoulder in this Saxon Gospel, and zero ravens are on Christ's shoulders in the Bible. Fri's (Frigg's) flying Feather Coat is mentioned in the Old Saxon Heliand Gospel, and so is a helmet of Invisibility I believe belongs to Sahsnoth, the tribal deity of the Saxons. Had Ostar been a Saxon Goddess, I think she would have pointed the Soothsayers "in the East" to Crist. The whole point of the Old Saxon Heliand is not to rip Heathenry, but to Heathenize the Gospel so Saxons would accept it. Changes to the Gospel story are Heathen ideals within the text. If the Heliand ripped on the Heathenry of the Saxons, it would be counter productive to its purpose. The Heliand shows zero bias when presenting Crist (Christ) as a soothsayer, with a Raven on his shoulder, or with magical flying feather coats and helmets of invisibility. We must also "ditch" the idea that Eostre is a Fertility Goddess. Shaw and Garden Stone in their books make clear that ZERO mentions of fertility exist with the Goddess Eostre until the 1600s when this suddenly is equated with Christian Easter in the written record. The books and historical sources (two) have words meaning “East” and therefore we “guess” that Eostre has something to do with the dawn. (But this is a guess.) In the Frankish Calendar, “Lenzimanod” (where “Lent” as a title comes from) is the moon BEFORE Ostar… Therefore, I would argue, in the third moon of the Frankish Year, there is “lengthening” of days, as the moon name implies… Ostar may just mean East and have nothing to do with ‘Dawn’ whatsoever. Dawn would be equated with Day time, and every single day of the year has a Dawn, not just the days of the fourth moon of the year in the Anglish and Frankish Calendars. Shaw is most likely correct, Austriahenae are Matronae stones, and a localized Goddess… and we have zero of them in Saxony or Old Saxon lands... There are Austriahenae in North Frankia, Frisia, and England, which is where the Goddess is attested... There are place names only in England and people names only in England that scholars are able to trace to "Eostre." Therefore, Eostre seems to be localized to the Frisians/Jutes/Anglish who came to England from Frisia. As per the Franks, it is more likely place names are gone due to Clovis' early conversion of the Franks to Christianity in the 5th century, whereas Anglish peoples remained Heathen after their Migration to England, and after Clovis' conversion and the conversion of the Franks... The earliest mentions of Germanic invaders to Britannia are Frisians and Angles, per Procopius: “The island of Britain is inhabited by three very populous nations, each ruled by a king. And the names of these nations are Angiloi, Frisians and, after the island, Britons.” (Procopius History of the Wars, III.2.38. 551 AD)
Please note: The Swedes, Norwegians, Icelanders, and Danes did not call "Easter" "Easter", but also used the word "paska." See the Saga of Saint Orlav, Chapter 109: "King Olav held a great feast at Easter (paska) and had bidden to it many townsmen and likewise bonders; and after Easter (paska) the king had his ships set forth and told men to bear tackle and oars to them; he had the floorboards and awnings laid and the ships floated ready for sea. After Easter (paska) the king sent men to Værdale." Please visit us on Facebook, search for the group "Saxon Heathenry."